Many are welcoming reports that the practice of medicine is changing. How much and how fast is still anyone’s guess. One article profiling this change is “More hospitals offering alternative therapy services,” written by Los Angeles Times reporter Duke Helfand. Hefland writes that alternative therapies, including meditation, relaxation training, homeopathy, and chiropractic care are being offered at more hospitals, mostly in response to patient requests. This is up from 37% in 2007 to the current 42%. In “More doctors going the alternative route,” written by Janice Neuman and published in the Chicago Tribune, Neuman highlights that even in their own lives physicians look beyond Western medicine.
What is alternative medicine? NIH studies in 2002 and 2007 listed 10 alternative medicine therapies and the percentage of individuals using each of these alternatives. What was interesting is that prayer for self was by far the most used form of alternative therapy. The 2002 study found that 43% of the participants used prayer for health purposes; by 2007 this had increased to 49%.
Another important aspect to this trend is that 40% of Americans spent out-of-pocket to obtain alternative therapies, at a cost of $34 billion in 2007. Brian Berman, Director of the Center for Integrative Medicine located at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, also notes a change in attitude by the medical profession when it comes to alternatives. He commented that he used to have trouble getting any referrals from other physicians for alternative treatments, but now patients have to wait as long as two months to begin their referral treatments.
The best part about the most used alternative – prayer – is that there is no wait time for the person using it. I have found that my own experience in using alternative medicine in the form of prayer has freed me from many modern-day living challenges – tension, friction, and pressures – all which have been found to negatively affect health.
As more people turn to alternatives, I am reminded that obtaining and maintaining health through alternatives is not new in the annals of history. Jesus’ restoration of health resulting from prayer during his short life span was unparalleled – and scientists and religious scholars continue to explore methods to understand how to solve health concerns through prayer. I like what Dr. Robert A. Kornfeld said in a Huffington Post article: “Progress only comes through the work of visionaries, of pioneers who are not afraid to step outside the ‘status quo’ so that society can benefit from expanding knowledge in new and more efficient ways.”
When discussing the impact that her book would have on the search for health, Mary Baker Eddy, modern-day religious leader and author, stated in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “A book introduces new thoughts, but it cannot make them speedily understood. It is the task of the sturdy pioneer to hew the tall oak and to cut the rough granite. Future ages must declare what the pioneer has accomplished.”
As the nation addresses the health needs of the public, individuals should have the freedom and encouragement to become pioneers in their own health care.
photo from Stock Photos/glowimages.com